Flora-Bama ‘Dip’ was a chilling success!

Published 3:37 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip was a “chilling” success on New Year ’s Day along the Alabama-Florida state line. This annual affair drew hundreds of participants and thousands of spectators.

Actually, the weather was very good, not too cold by standards of these northern and Midwestern “snow birds.” “It was a great day to splash in the gulf waters,” one avid swimmer said. “Weather like today is like summer in Ohio where we live,” she added.

“This was our 25th dip here at the Bama-Florida lounge and last year the weather was below freezing.”

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“We wash away the sins of 2014 is the reason for dipping in these waters,” one elderly man from Minnesota related to a TV news lady. By the way, popularity of this event has drawn national news coverage. Apparently age is no factor, as some of these participants are reported to be in their late 80s.

The Dip is one of many activities Baldwin County officials offer these “friends of ours from the Northland.” Mardi Gras parades, free bus trips to Wind Creek and special tours to New Orleans are among the frills they enjoy.

This county values their two-to-three month treks down south because they contribute immensely to the economy of the area. A few on occasions decide to make this area their permanent home. Courthouse records show that several have taken up permanent residence here.

Ouida and I got a hilarious “bang” while eating out of town a couple of nights ago. After having been seated at our table, a group of nine came in and were seated two tables across from us. Now this was not just an ordinary group. It was, shall I say, an extraordinary group. There were four men, three women and two children.

The men had beards — big non-cultured beards that completely covered their mouths. Their clothing and hats appeared to be camouflage styling and their boots almost reached their hips. The women and children wore the same type clothing, except the women wrapped their head in bandannas. The men never removed their hats.

As we watched them place their order Ouida asked me, “Do you suppose this is that Duck family group coming in here to eat?” I hardly knew how to answer her because she hit it right on the nail. It did, indeed, look like the TV family. But, of course, it was not. I don’t know if they were trying to imitate the Duck Dynasty family, or if this was their normal way of conducting themselves. There was confusion in their placing their order as they kept changing the order — especially the women.

After the server finally got the order the two children, appearing to be 8 to 9 years old, began running throughout eating area. They came up to our table and said, “Do you want to see our tattoos?”

Ouida said “not really,” but I said, “Yes, show them to me.” Well, you would have to see it to believe it, but those two kids had two tattoos on each arm. One tattoo was of a rattlesnake and the other appeared to be that of an alligator. The tattoo artist did a good job of making sure his needlework looked exactly the same on each child.

Wow, can you believe culture personified in children … i.e., tattoo culture?

When their food was brought to their table, this is where the fun began. The men’s beards were so fuzzy, they blocked the pathway to the mouth and food particles clung accumulated in abundance. One of the women said to one of the children “go pick papa’s beard,” which he did. I have never seen as much exchanging of food that took place. One woman would reach far across the table to pick up a chicken leg. I assumed the leg was being eaten by her husband. One piece of chicken fell onto the floor but one of the women said, “I got it.”

The fact that they had no manners, no culture, never any exposure to Amy Vanderbilt, did not seem to bother them at all. Completely engrossed in their meal and family gathering they paid no attention to all us observing them in the big dining area. One thing I must say. They were a very happy group enjoying the rapport they shared with each family member.

We left this restaurant wondering if this group conducted themselves in this manner all the time. Or, were they so impressed by the bearded Duck Dynasty family group that they adopted this lifestyle.

Now let’s look at a couple of news items from days gone by. Faulkner State Junior College in Bay Minette assumed its new name, after having been known as Yancey State Junior College.

Taylors Store in Lottie, a popular area landmark, was destroyed by fire in early 1970. The Dallas Taylor Store was a popular gathering place for many of those fine Lottie residents.

Little League and babe Ruth officials elected that year were Ed Cole, Tony Albert, Grover Everette, Bill Hendrix, Robin White, H.J. Smith and Ollie Strawbridge.

Hugo Esneul, prominent local businessman, retired as chairman of the board at the Bank of Atmore and our local hospital was the recipient of timely monetary gifts for the addition of a coronary unit. Masland and Sons, as well as others, made a sizeable donation.

More news next week.

You can email Lowell McGill at exam@frontiernet.net.